The original Gold Sovereigns were first produced in 1489 by King Henry VII, they were the first denominational value gold coin ever offered by the Royal Mint to date. They were designed with a double rose, symbolising the Union of the York and Lancaster houses. In approximately 1667 the first Sovereigns would be replaced by the Guinea after over 150 years in circulation. The first sovereigns turned out to be a failure monetarily as they were too big to be used effectively in everyday trade. You can view one of these remarkable coins in stock at KJC by clicking here. This is only the beginning of our story; the Gold Sovereign would eventually go on to change modern coins as we know them forever.
In 1788 a new steam-powered minting machine would be patented in England by Boulton and Watt. Before this the Royal Mint had used manual screw presses to mint coins which took four strong men to manually operate with a small boy placing the blanks in the machine between strikes, this was an arduous and dangerous process that wasn’t very profitable, especially with regards to copper coins, which were used for small transactions. This resulted in a shortage of small change throughout the empire, however, the introduction of steam power would provide a solution to this problem.
In 1797 the first copper coins were produced after a hiatus in the design of this new coining machine. The most famous and valuable of these are known commonly as the Cartwheel Penny. The coins were more precise and the number of coins the Royal Mint could produce went from around 3.5 million to over 30 million items struck per year, a vast improvement.
Jumping ahead to 1815, a momentous year in European history, the British monarchy’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo prompted a focus on strengthening the economy. This led to the decision to introduce a “New” coinage, replacing the Guinea system, which was prone to counterfeiting and clipping. The new coins called “Sovereigns,” and their smaller counterparts, “Half Sovereigns,” were made to exact specifications with intricate features to deter counterfeiting. Benedetto Pistrucci, an Italian designer, was chosen to create the now-famous design of St. George slaying the Dragon on horseback, a design that would endure for centuries.
Gold Sovereigns became the main currency within the British Empire for two centuries, and in 1853, Australia was granted permission to mint its own coinage, including Gold Sovereigns. The Sydney Mint Sovereigns, with their unique design and silver content, became particularly sought after, with some editions commanding high prices at auctions.
With the breakout of World War I Britain would fall off the gold standard once again, and whether through melting, damage or many other causes, certain dates have become exceedingly rare and extremely sought after, there are believed only to be two people on the planet who have a full set of Gold Sovereigns. These rare and or scarce sovereigns have continued to increase in value much past their weights in bullion, and will hopefully continue to do so.
One of the rarest coins gold coins known is a Sovereign – the 1920 Sydney Sovereign, there are currently only 4 known to exist with possibly a couple more that have yet to be revealed. The most recent auction result achieved for one of these coins was just under 1.2 million dollars AUD in June 2021. Not only has our Director Kurt Jaggard had the privilege of being one of the few people on the planet to handle multiple of these extraordinary and extremely rare coins, but he has also had the privilege of being involved in the sale of a couple of these coins to the public. Making the KJC name world-renowned for our knowledge of Gold Sovereigns.
Over time, the outbreak of World War I and various other factors contributed to the rarity of certain Sovereigns, making them highly sought after and valuable numismatic treasures. KJC Coins, with over 50 years of experience and a generational legacy, has earned a reputable status as experts in Bullion and Numismatics. Our exceptional knowledge, combined with our hands-on experience in the industry, has solidified our position as one of the leading dealers in the country.